WSWA: Judging the Hoptails Competition



The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America trade show met in Orlando last month and as part of the program held four bartending competitions. I along with 5 others judged Hoptails, a competition dedicated to beer cocktails. This was the first time such a competition was held at WSWA.

There’s been an interest in beer cocktails or hoptails with the rise of craft beer and craft cocktails. However, some might say this interest is renewed as beer cocktails are not a new thing. I attended a seminar on this subject back in 2011 at Portland Cocktail Week.

Unlike other competitions I’ve attended and/or judged, the drinks were submitted by liquor companies rather than individual bartenders. Some companies didn’t send a representative so WSWA provided bartenders who made the drinks for the judges. Other companies like Lucas Bols sent a representative.

MC Tony Abou-Ganim with competing bartenders

MC Tony Abou-Ganim with competing bartenders

Lucas Bols USA Brand Manager Anthony Pullen won the WSWA hoptails competition. It was a tough moment for the judges. There was a strong leaning towards a more conventional cocktail but I really liked the unusual sour flavor in Anthony’s Delightful Deception. It made use of Bols Yogurt which is liqueur new to the American market.

winning cocktail by Anthony Pullen

winning cocktail by Anthony Pullen

Delightful Deception – Anthony Pullen, Lucas Bols USA

  • 2 oz Lindemans Framboise lambic beer
  • 1.25 oz Bols Yogurt
  • 1 oz pink grapefruit juice
  • 1 thin slice of jalepeno pepper

The drink was was shaken and served on the rocks with an orange peel garnish.

Bols brand ambassador Anthony Pullen

Bols brand ambassador Anthony Pullen

The cocktails were judged on taste, creativity/ originality, use of beer, presentation and overall impression. I’m actually not a fan of lambic beers thinking they’re too sweet but the use of the fresh grapefruit juice and Bols Yogurt tempered that. I thought Delightful Deception would be a great aperitif drink. The tangy flavor would open the appetite.

second place

second place – Ten with a Two

One of the brands launched at this year’s WSWA is Blue Chair Bay Rum from country singer Kenny Chesney. The second place hoptail went to Blue Chair Bay for the drink Ten with a Two by brand mixologist Jonathan Pogash. However, it was WSWA provided bartender Andrew Pollard who made the drink. Andrew is the Beverage Development Specialist for Wirtz Beverage Nevada.

Ten with a Two – Jonathan Pogash, Blue Chair Bay Rum

  • 2 oz Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz lager beer
  • 10 mint leaves
  • juice of 1 lime wedge
  • splash of simple syrup

This drink was served on the rocks with a sprig of mint. It was described as a cross between a daiquiri and a mojito with beer.

hop - one of my faves

Grapefruit Moon

One of the drinks that caused a lot of debate between the judges was Grapefruit Moon featuring the new Hop Head vodka from Anchor Distilling Company. 

I loved this cocktail but most people described it as “interesting.” I have to say though this was the hoptail that really showed its “hoppy” roots- everything from having a vodka distilled from hops to the Anchor California lager.

Grapefruit Moon – Anchor Distilling Company

  • 1 oz Hop Head Vodka
  • .75 oz Cocchi Rosa
  • .50 oz Velvet Falernum
  • .75 grapefruit juice
  • Anchor California Lager

Served on the rocks in a highball with 3 cracked cardamon pods. My drink wasn’t filled to the top and I almost wonder if the flavor would have been different if it was topped with more lager. But of course I liked it as is. Andrew Pollard also made this drink.

mint from Andrew Pollard

mint from Andrew Pollard

I had met Andrew when he was managing the Vesper Bar in Las Vegas. When he heard the story behind The Minty, he presented me a bouquet of mint.

Congratulations to Lucas Bols and Anthony Pullen! I look forward to seeing more of the Bols Yogurt in drinks and of course, hoptails in general. Beer cocktails are a great low-proof summer sipper for hanging by the pool.


© The Minty 2013